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A Dallas Star is born: how hockey helped me fall in love with writing

Dec. 4, 2017
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If I had been born a boy, I would have been named Stanley. I was born in October 1999, mere months after one of the most important moments of my father’s life up to that point: the Dallas Stars had won the Stanley Cup that June. He never played hockey or was involved in hockey prior to 1993, when the Minnesota North Stars uprooted the franchise and moved down south to Dallas. He has had season tickets ever since, but no Stars moment since then has approached bringing the Stanley Cup to Dallas.

Thankfully, I was born a girl, and given the name Zoe. My dad figured that no matter how hard he tried he could not turn Sergei or Mike into a girl’s name. However, I did not need to be named after a player to have hockey impact my life. In fact, the impacts began well before birth.

I attended numerous playoff games in 1999, when I was still being toted in my mom’s stomach, and some of my earliest memories are from Stars games.  In my younger years, I didn’t love the game as much as my father would have liked—the arena was too loud, and I was lacking in appreciation for the game.

In fifth grade, all of that changed. Every Thanksgiving, my family travels out of the country during the one week all of us have free to travel. In November 2011, our family trip was to Vancouver. Our hotel was situated right next to Rogers Arena, home of the Vancouver Canucks.

We headed out to dinner one night and ran into hordes of Canucks fans making their way  towards the arena. There seemed to be millions of fans (in reality, they numbered closer to thousands), and I couldn’t believe how passionate and excited they were. I was inspired by their passion, and decided to give this hockey thing another try.  And I fell in love.

For all of middle school, I couldn’t get enough of the sport. I begged my dad to go to games; I began writing “hot take” opinion pieces about the Stars, and I wrote fifty-page novellas about teenagers in Vancouver and their love of hockey. As games played in my living room, I would mute the television and provide my own color commentary. (I expect that I was a little too biased in favor of the Stars to ever make it on national television.)

It was with hockey that my passion for writing truly took form, and that’s where my journalistic endeavors began. Although I never shared these pieces with anyone, I still keep them in a box in my closet, a reminder of my middle school aspirations to be a sports journalist. My aspirations since then have only changed by one word—I have deleted the word “sports”. Writing and journalism are still my greatest passions and what I see myself doing ten, twenty, thirty years from now. Above all, I identify myself as a writer. Somehow, this is all thanks to the sport of hockey.

Just like my dad, I have never picked up a stick and attempted to play the game, despite being a varsity athlete in other sports. Also like my dad, I have been deeply impacted by the sport in ways that transcend the arena. From October to April every year, my family invests fully in the success of the Stars, and I am reminded almost daily about how my dreams took root. I watch each game hoping for a victory, and there are still times that I will mute the television and narrate the game out loud.

Being a Dallas Stars hockey fan has left its mark in my life and has helped me find my voice. I learned to put pen to paper to make a difference. Now, rather than writing about hockey, I help run several publications, including Crybaby Zine, an online and print platform for teenagers to share their voices and talents. I write about issues that matter, and topics that entertain, and it all started with the Stanley Cup in Dallas.